Program in Environmental Studies



  • Corina E. Tarnita

Executive Committee

  • Ian C. Bourg, Civil and Environmental Eng
  • Allison Carruth, Effron Center Study of America
  • Jacob S. Dlamini, History
  • William A. Gleason, English
  • Katharine B. Hackett, High Meadows Environmental Ins, ex officio
  • Melissa Lane, Politics
  • Reed M. Maxwell, Civil and Environmental Eng
  • Erika L. Milam, History
  • Rob Nixon, English
  • Michael Oppenheimer, Schl of Public & Int'l Affairs
  • Laure Resplandy, Geosciences
  • Daniel I. Rubenstein, Ecology & Evolutionary Biology
  • Gabriel A. Vecchi, Geosciences
  • Jerry C. Zee, Anthropology
For a full list of faculty members and fellows please visit the department or program website.

Program Information

The Program in Environmental Studies (ENV) offers a vibrant, multidisciplinary forum for engaging the scientific, political, humanistic, and technological dimensions of the greatest environmental challenges facing the world today. The program aims to educate a generation of Princeton students as leaders to address critical environmental challenges that they will face throughout their careers and in life. We provide a strong community for students with interest in environmental topics and offer a wide array of courses. Experiential learning is integral to environmental studies at Princeton. Several of the courses offer laboratory and field experiences. Opportunities for summer internships and funding to support research connected to students’ independent work are also available. Equally important to the life of the ENV program are events through which students may present their research, work collaboratively on group projects, and interact with leading scientists and policymakers in the field.

The ENV program is distinctive for the broad disciplinary backgrounds of participating students. Students majoring in any discipline who wish to demonstrate proficiency in environmental studies may pursue a certificate in environmental studies.

The Program in Environmental Studies is part of the High Meadows Environmental Institute (HMEI)(link is external), the interdisciplinary center for environmental research, education, and outreach at Princeton University. HMEI offers an extensive summer internship program with opportunities for students to work with faculty in laboratories and field sites around the world. Students in their first, sophomore, or junior years are eligible to apply. Funding is also available for students who wish to conduct field or laboratory research as a component of their senior independent work. The internship program and funding for independent work are open to all students regardless of their being an ENV certificate student.

Admission to the Program

The Program in Environmental Studies is open to all A.B. and B.S.E. students. Students interested in pursuing the ENV certificate are encouraged to register as early as their first year by completing the ENV Certificate Program Student Profile Form. Students should also meet with the director or the undergraduate/graduate program manager to plan a tentative course of study and to discuss elective choices early on in their planning process.

Program of Study

ENV courses explore emerging environmental themes and research in the sciences, engineering, social sciences, and the humanities. Taught by world-class faculty and researchers, our classes include topics in climate science, environmental policy, land use and agriculture, environmental history, environmental communications, earth systems science, environmental justice, literature, and the arts. Undergraduates may enroll in ENV courses starting in their first year. Students in the certificate program are required to (1) complete five courses, (2) investigate an environmental topic as an element of their departmental thesis, or conduct an independent investigative work, and (3) participate in the Discovery Day poster show during their senior year. Students must receive a grade of C or higher (no Pass/D/Fail) in all courses taken in fulfillment of the requirements for the ENV certificate. 

Certificate Requirements

The ENV Certificate is open to all students interested in environmental issues. Students in the Class of 2026 and beyond must complete the requirements below.  (Students in the Classes of 2023, 2024, and 2025 are encouraged to satisfy the new requirements, but may consult with the program director about their individual path of study.)

  1. Two (2) foundational courses (list available on website). Students are encouraged to take the foundational courses as early as possible in their academic careers. At most one foundational course may be at the 200 level.
  2. Three (3) electives. At most one elective may be at the 200 level or FRS.

Two (2) of these five (5) courses must be in humanities and/or social sciences, and two (2) must be in natural sciences and/or engineering. Consult the program website for the most up-to-date listing of available courses.

Except with the approval of the ENV program director or the undergraduate program manager, no more than one (1) of these three elective courses may count toward the student’s departmental concentration or another certificate. In all cases, students are encouraged to meet with the ENV program director or undergraduate program manager in order to choose an appropriate sequence of courses.


Additional Program Requirements

Senior Thesis or Independent Investigative Work. Students in the certificate program are expected to examine an environmental issue as a component of their senior thesis. The topic must be approved by the ENV director as well as the director of undergraduate studies in the student's concentration. The environmental content of the senior thesis will be reviewed early on in the senior year. Students who find it difficult to incorporate an environmental topic into their departmental senior thesis should meet with the ENV program director to find a suitable alternative before the end of their junior year.

Discovery Day. In their senior year, students pursuing the ENV certificate are required to participate in Discovery Day, a poster presentation that allows students to present the methodologies and final results of their senior thesis research with fellow students, faculty, and staff.

Certificate of Proficiency

Students who meet the requirements of the program receive a certificate of proficiency in environmental studies upon graduation.


ENV 102A Climate: Past, Present, and Future (See GEO 102A)

ENV 102B Climate: Past, Present, and Future (See GEO 102B)

ENV 203 Measuring Climate Change: Methods in Data Analysis and Scientific Writing (See GEO 201)

ENV 205 Interdisciplinary Design Studio (See ARC 205)

ENV 206 Designing Sustainable Systems (See ENE 202)

ENV 207 Introduction to Environmental Engineering (See CEE 207)

ENV 219 Catastrophes across Cultures: The Anthropology of Disaster (See ANT 219)

ENV 226 Living, Naturally: Organisms, Ecologies, and Norms in Greco-Roman Antiquity (See CLA 226)

ENV 247 The Science of Roman History (See CLA 247)

ENV 300 Environmental Engineering and Energy (See CEE 304)

ENV 301 Nature and Infrastructure in South Asia (See ARC 301)

ENV 302 Practical Models for Environmental Systems (also
CEE 302
EEB 302

Humans are increasingly affecting environmental systems throughout the world. This course uses quantitative analysis to examine three of today's most pressing issues: energy, water, and food. Each issue is examined from perspectives of natural and engineered ecosystems that depend on complex interactions among physical, chemical, and biological processes. The course is an introduction for students in the natural sciences and engineering pursuing an advanced program in environmental studies. We emphasize quantitative analyses with applications to a wide range of systems, and the design of engineered solutions to major environmental problems. Instructed by: M. Celia

ENV 303 Agriculture, Human Diets and the Environment (also
EEB 303

Food fuels us and our diets connect us with nature at many scales. Yet most of us poorly understand how food is produced and how production processes impact our diets, health, livelihoods and the environment. By the course's end, students will better understand the ethical, environmental, economic, social and medical implications of their food choices. Food production methods ranging from hunting, fishing and gathering to small and large scale crop and animal farming will be examined through lenses of ethics, ecology, evolutionary biology, geography, political economy, social dynamics, physiology, climate change and sustainability. Instructed by: D. Rubenstein

ENV 304 Disease Ecology, Economics, and Policy (also
ECO 328
EEB 304
SPI 455
) Fall SEN

The dynamics of the emergence and spread of disease arise from a complex interplay among disease ecology, economics, and human behavior. Lectures will provide an introduction to complementarities between economic and epidemiological approaches to understanding the emergence, spread, and control of infectious diseases. The course will cover topics such as drug-resistance in bacterial and parasitic infections, individual incentives to vaccinate, the role of information in the transmission of infectious diseases, and the evolution of social norms in healthcare practices. One three-hour lecture, one preceptorial. Instructed by: C. Metcalf

ENV 305 Topics in Environmental Studies Fall SA

Special topics courses related to the broad field of environmental studies. Instructed by: F. Popper, D. Popper

ENV 306 Topics in Environmental Studies Spring HA

Special topics courses related to the broad field of environmental studies. Seminar. Instructed by: J. Ruderman

ENV 308 Documentary Filmmaking in Kenya (See GLS 312)

ENV 310 Environmental Law and Moot Court Spring SA

Examining the relationship between law and environmental policy, this course focuses on cases that have established policy principles. The first half of the seminar will be conducted using the Socratic method. The second half will allow students to reargue either the plaintiff or defendant position in a key case, which will be decided by the classroom jury. Instructed by: L. Mehranvar, D. Greenhouse

ENV 312 The Visible Wild (See VIS 324)

ENV 314 Race, Gender, and the Urban Environment (See AMS 312)

ENV 315 The Port of New Orleans: Culture and Climate Change (See VIS 325)

ENV 316 Climate Science and Communications Spring LA

Climate scientists have long agreed that climate change is real, potentially dangerous, and caused largely by humans. Despite these warnings, however, policymakers have still not taken significant action to limit greenhouse-gas emissions--in part because scientists talk mostly to each other, in technical terms most of us cannot understand. That is where science communicators come in. This class will give students the basic scientific knowledge; the narrative ability; and the technical skills to translate climate science into compelling stories, largely in video, that can help lead to greater public understanding of this crucial issue. Instructed by: M. Lemonick, J. Harrop

ENV 317 Literature, Landscape and Place-Making in the African Environmental Imagination (See AFS 318)

ENV 318 Hydrology: Water and Climate (See CEE 306)

ENV 319 Environmental Economics (See SPI 306)

ENV 322 Toward an Environmental History of the Mediterranean (See HIS 308)

ENV 327 Investigating an Ethos of Sustainability at Princeton Spring EM

Addressing global ecological and societal degradation depends on humanity practicing regenerative, or reciprocal, relationships with nature. Evidence suggests that we are collectively capable of producing restorative technological, behavioral, and social solutions, but they must be applied holistically across all human actions at every scale. We explore sustainability challenges in the context of ethics, justice, and behavioral psychology, including visits with experts, and survey-based investigations on campus. Students will be presented with real-time decision-making needs at Princeton, with an opportunity to influence those decisions. Instructed by: S. Weber

ENV 328 Energy for a Greenhouse-Constrained World (See MAE 328)

ENV 331 Environmental Chemistry: Chemistry of the Natural Systems (See GEO 363)

ENV 334 Global Environmental Issues (See CEE 334)

ENV 335 The Energy Water Nexus (See CBE 335)

ENV 336 Environment and Migration (See SOC 337)

ENV 338 The Literature of Environmental Disaster (See FRE 338)

ENV 339 Climate Change: Impacts, Adaptation, Policy (See GEO 366)

ENV 341 Water, Savannas, and Society: Global Change and Sustainability in Africa's Hallmark Ecosystem (See EEB 341)

ENV 343 Inequality and Sustainability in India and USA: An Interdisciplinary Global Perspective (also
CEE 343
SAS 343
) Fall SA

This course will explore inequality in India, addressing linkages between social inequality and inequality in access to basic services; exposure to environmental pollution and climate risks; participation in governance; and, overall outcomes related to health and wellbeing. The topic of inequality will be grounded in the overarching topic of sustainable development. And, inequality in India will be discussed in a comparative manner with other countries and global trajectories. Instructed by: A. Ramaswami

ENV 344 Water, Engineering, and Civilization (See CEE 344)

ENV 347 Field Seminar in Regional Environmental Politics Fall SA

Field Seminar in Regional Environmental Politics will provide students the opportunity for experiential learning and regional engagement with a range of important environmental topics by pairing intensive topical readings from the environmental social sciences, humanities, and sciences with field-based pedagogy. ENV 347 will proceed in three thematic modules, each of which will be anchored by a field trip to a relevant site in the region (Eg. New Jersey, Philadelphia, and New York City). The intensive seminar enhances ENV's goals of broad-based, interdisciplinary approach to environmental topics through locally engaged research and practice. Instructed by: J. Zee, N. Jessee

ENV 349 Writing about Science (See STC 349)

ENV 350 The Environment: Science and Policy (See SPI 350)

ENV 351 Fundamentals of Biofuels (See ENE 318)

ENV 353 Chemistry of the Environment (also
CEE 353
GEO 353
) Spring SEN

This course provides the chemical background to understand many of today's most important environmental issues. Topics include atmospheric pollution, the ozone hole, ocean acidification, acid mine drainage, and coastal dead zones. Overall, the course focuses on a quantitative understanding of the chemistry of the atmosphere and natural waters. Students will use the chemical equilibrium model Minteq to study specific examples related to water quality issues. Instructed by: A. Kraepiel-Morel

ENV 354 Climate and Weather: Order in the Chaos (also
GEO 368

This course focuses on the relationship between climate and weather events: each weather event is unique and not predictable more than a few days in advance, large-scale factors constrain the statistics of weather events, those statistics are climate. Various climatic aspects will be explored, such as the geographic constraints, energy and water cycling, and oceanic and atmospheric circulation, solar heating, the El Niño phenomenon, ice ages, and greenhouse gases. These climate features will be used to interpret the statistics of a number of weather events, including heat waves, tropical cyclones (hurricanes and typhoons) and floods. Instructed by: G. Vecchi

ENV 355 Economics of Food and Agriculture (See ECO 355)

ENV 356 Topics in Environmental Justice in the Geosciences (See GEO 360)

ENV 357 Empire of the Ark: The Animal Question in Film, Photography and Popular Culture (also
AMS 457
GSS 357
) EC

This course explores the current fascination with animals in film, photography and popular culture, engaging central issues in animal and environmental studies. Why has looking become our main way of interacting with animals? How does rethinking animals inspire us to rethink being human? How can we transform our relations with other species and the planet? Course themes include: wilderness, national parks and zoos; the cult of the pet; vampires, werewolves and zombies; animal speech, animal emotions and rights; nature, sexuality and race. Exploring planetary crises such as extinction and climate change, and positive strategies for change. Instructed by: A. McClintock

ENV 361 Earth's Atmosphere (See GEO 361)

ENV 362 Earth History (See GEO 362)

ENV 363 Writing the Environment through Creative Nonfiction LA

This workshop will expose participants to some of the most dynamic, adventurous environmental nonfiction writers while also giving students the opportunity to develop their own voices as environmental writers. We'll be looking at the environmental essay, the memoir, opinion writing, and investigative journalism. In the process we'll discuss the imaginative strategies deployed by leading environmental writers and seek to adapt some of those strategies in our own writing. Readings will engage urgent concerns of our time, like climate change, extinction, race, gender and the environment, and relations between humans and other life forms. Instructed by: R. Nixon

ENV 365 Conservation Biology (See EEB 308)

ENV 366 Oil, Energy and The Middle East (See NES 366)

ENV 367 Modeling the Earth System: Assessing Strategies for Mitigating Climate Change (also
GEO 367
) Fall QCR

This course is an introduction to earth system modeling for students interested in global environmental issues. Students will use a "compact" or "reduced" earth system model, including the ocean, the land and the atmosphere, to examine how the system responds to human activities and natural climate variations. In small groups, they will design mitigation and geo-engineering scenarii (reforestation, carbon capture, emission limitation etc.), test their impact using the model and analyze and discuss their results. This course is designed to give students a critical thinking about climate models, their strengths and their limitations. Instructed by: L. Resplandy

ENV 370 Sedimentology (See GEO 370)

ENV 371 Resource Recovery for a Circular Economy (See ENE 321)

ENV 372 Rapid Switch: The Energy Transition Challenge to a Low-carbon Future (See ENE 372)

ENV 373 Creative Ecologies: American Environmental Narrative and Art, 1980-2020 (See AMS 354)

ENV 375 The Physics of Glaciers (See GEO 376)

ENV 377 Sustainable Cities in the US and India: Technology & Policy Pathways (also
CEE 377
SAS 377
URB 377
) SA

An interdisciplinary exploration of our quest for urban sustainability in different parts of the world. We will: 1) Explore the concept of sustainable cities, focusing on systems that provide food, energy, water, mobility, housing, waste management, and public spaces to more than half the world's people that live in urban areas today; 2) Compare and contrast cities in the US and India, understanding their diverse contexts and current baseline in terms of infrastructure, environment, economy, health, wellbeing and equity. 3) Explore pathways to a more sustainable future, including technology innovation, policy and social entrepreneurship. Instructed by: A. Ramaswami

ENV 378 Nature vs. Culture: A European Problem (See ECS 378)

ENV 383 Environmental Justice Through Literature and Film (See ENG 384)

ENV 384 Ecology: Species Interactions, Biodiversity and Society (See EEB 321)

ENV 385 Environmental Thermodynamics (also
CEE 385

This course is intended to provide a modern perspective of thermodynamics for applications in engineering, geophysics and ecology for a variety of environmental systems, from the molecular to the planetary scale. Instructed by: A. Porporato

ENV 386 Literature and Environment (See ENG 386)

ENV 388 Environmental Materials Chemistry: Researching in Field and Laboratory (See GEO 369)

ENV 389 Environmental Film Studies: Research Film Studio (See ECS 389)

ENV 394 History of Ecology and Environmentalism (See HIS 394)

ENV 405 The Land Crisis for Food, Climate and Wildlife (See SPI 405)

ENV 406 Energy and Form (See ARC 406)

ENV 417A Ecosystems and Global Change (See EEB 417A)

ENV 417B Ecosystems and Global Change (See EEB 417B)

ENV 418 Microbial Life - A Geobiological View (See GEO 416)

ENV 428 The Body in Rain: Embodiment and Planetary Change (also
ANT 488

This course locates itself at the intersection and juxtaposition of medical and environmental anthropologies in order to perpetrate a double movement: how are bodies - human and other - implicated in processes often figured as environmental; and how can exploring a diverse range of embodiments might open ways into denaturalizing `environment' as simply what exists outside of bodies. How do we write about the environment, about bodies, and their relationship? Topics include climate change, toxic contamination, multispecies ethnography. Instructed by: J. Zee

ENV 429 Ocean Bio-Physical Interactions and Climate (See GEO 429)

ENV 431 Solar Energy Conversion (See ENE 431)

ENV 432 Environment and War (See HIS 432)

ENV 434 Marx and the Marxist Method of Analysis: A Primer for All Disciplines (See HIS 412)

ENV 463 Instabilities in Fluids: Linear and Non-linear Analysis of Waves and Patterns in the Environment (See MAE 463)

ENV 464 History with Objects and Landscapes (See HIS 464)

ENV 472 Environmental Chemistry of Soils (See GEO 470)

ENV 473 White Hunters, Black Poachers: Africa and the Science of Conservation (See HIS 473)

ENV 492 Topics in the Formal Analysis of the Urban Structure (See ARC 492)